The Latest: Macron praises Merkel’s ‘respectable’ decision

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a news conference during their meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany were gathering on Saturday for a talks about Syria. (Maxim Shipenkov/Pool Photo via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on politics in Germany after a state election in Hesse (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron praises German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “very respectable” and “dignified” decision not to run again after the end of her term in 2021.

Macron suggested at a news conference in Paris that he called Merkel to express his “admiration and friendship.”

Macron paid tribute to Merkel’s ability to face financial and migrant crises in recent years without forgetting Europe’s values. He said that “she leads her country with much courage.”

Macron added that the rise of far-right parties both in Germany and France “worries me yet motivates me in what is my fight from the very beginning.”

Sunday’s regional election in Germany showed a significant loss for Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union and gains for both the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

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3:15 p.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-left coalition partner says new leadership for the German leader’s conservative party could be a positive development for her struggling government.

The Social Democrats, who entered Merkel’s fourth-term coalition government only reluctantly in March, have been angered by conflicts within Merkel’s conservative Union bloc over recent months. Merkel now plans to give up the leadership of her Christian Democratic Union but remain chancellor.

Social Democratic leader Andrea Nahles said Monday: “I hope that, once there is a clear decision, these arguments over personnel and direction … will be over.” She said if things go well “it could have a positive effect for us and our work together.”

Nahles paid tribute to Merkel’s achievements in 18 years as CDU leader.

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1:45 p.m.

Angela Merkel, who’s said she won’t run again for German chancellor in 2021, says she won’t try and influence who succeeds her.

Merkel told reporters Monday that she sees this as the opening of a new phase for her conservative Christian Democratic Union party. She says “this is a very good process that we haven’t had in 18 years.”

She confirmed reports that Health Minister Jens Spahn and CDU General Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer have both announced they would vie for the party leadership job.

Spahn has been a critic of Merkel while Kramp-Karrenbauer is widely seen as relatively close to the chancellor. Merkel told reporters Monday, however, that she wouldn’t try and influence the process of who succeeds her.

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1:35 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that she sees “many more opportunities than risks” in her plan to hand over the leadership of her party at a December congress.

Merkel said she ultimately bears the responsibility for her fourth-term government’s poor start and there need to be changes. She said Monday that it’s “time to start a new chapter.”

Merkel plans to remain chancellor for the rest of this parliamentary term, which ends in 2021, but said she won’t then run again and won’t seek any other political office.

She aims to give her conservative Christian Democratic Union party the opportunity for renewal while keeping the reins of government.

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1:30 p.m.

Angela Merkel has confirmed that she plans to step down as leader of her conservative party after 18 years but says she will remain German chancellor for the rest of the current parliamentary term.

Merkel’s announcement Monday followed two state election debacles for the federal government’s “grand coalition” of her conservative Christian Democratic Union, its Bavaria-only sister, the Christian Social Union, and the center-left Social Democrats.

Merkel appeared keen to set in motion an orderly transition amid recent signs that her authority is eroding. Her fourth-term government, which took office in March, has become notorious for infighting. Voters punished the governing parties in state elections Sunday in Hesse and two weeks ago in Bavaria.

The current parliamentary term is due to end in 2021.

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1:10 p.m.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn is reportedly throwing his name into the hat as a candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party.

The ambitious young conservative and sometime critic of Merkel was named health minister in March in what was seen as a desire by the chancellor to integrate critics into her government.

The dpa news agency, without citing its sources, reported Monday the 38-year-old told a leadership meeting of the CDU he plans to run for party leader at a congress in December.

Spahn has been a leading advocate of the Christian Democrats building a sharper conservative profile that contrasts with Merkel’s centrist approach. He has taken a tough line on Germany’s approach to integrating immigrants.

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12:50 p.m.

German news agency dpa is reporting that a senior ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will seek the leadership of the longtime German leader’s conservative party.

Citing unidentified participants, dpa reported that Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told a leadership meeting of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union that she intends to run for the party’s leadership at a previously scheduled congress in December.

Merkel reportedly said earlier Monday that she plans to give up the CDU leadership but stay on as chancellor for the rest of the current parliamentary term. The new party leader would be the presumed front-runner to be candidate for chancellor in the next election.

It’s unclear who else might run. Kramp-Karrenbauer, who gave up her previous job as a state governor this year to become CDU general secretary, is considered relatively close to Merkel.

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12:15 p.m.

Angela Merkel has reportedly told leaders of her conservative party that this will be her final parliamentary term as Germany’s chancellor.

The dpa news agency, citing unidentified party sources, reported Monday that her comments came as Merkel met with the leadership of her party following the Hesse state election in which her Christian Democratic Union party lost significant ground.

It had been widely assumed that this would be Merkel’s final term as chancellor but before the reported remarks she had not confirmed that herself. The current parliamentary term ends in late 2021.

Earlier in the meeting she’d told party members that she wouldn’t again run for party leadership at a conference in December.

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12 p.m.

A conservative, often-awkward ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it’s a shame that she reportedly plans to step down as leader of her party.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer heads the Christian Social Union, the Bavaria-only sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. He has feuded with her on and off for three years over Merkel’s initially welcoming approach to migrants, and an argument between the pair in June over whether to turn back migrants at the German-Austrian border came close to bringing down her government.

Seehofer said Monday that “it’s a shame” that Merkel plans to step down as CDU leader, although she intends to remain chancellor. He insisted that their relationship has been marked by “mutual respect.”

There are question marks over Seehofer’s own future after a poor performance for his CSU in a recent Bavarian state election.

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10:30 a.m.

Angela Merkel is reportedly telling her conservative party that she is prepared to step down as its leader but remain as German chancellor.

News agency dpa cited unidentified party sources in its report Monday as the leadership of Merkel’s party met following a state election in which both her conservative Christian Democratic Union and its partners in the national government, the center-left Social Democrats, lost significant ground. Mass-circulation daily Bild reported, citing sources in the CDU leadership, that Merkel said she wouldn’t run again for the party leadership.

Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, stepped down as leader of his party in 2004 but remained chancellor.

Merkel has led the CDU since 2000 and has been Germany’s leader since 2005. The CDU is due to hold a conference in December at which the party’s leadership is up for renewal.

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8:40 a.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and her coalition partners are mulling the implications of a regional German election in which voters punished the governing parties for months of infighting.

Sunday’s election in the central state of Hesse saw both Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union and the center-left Social Democrats lose significant ground, while there were gains for both the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany. Merkel’s CDU finished narrowly salvaged a majority for its regional governing coalition with the Greens.

On Monday, attention was focused on the future of Merkel’s national “grand coalition” of Germany’s traditional biggest parties, and on the chancellor herself. The Social Democrats’ leader, Andrea Nahles, demanded Sunday a “clear, binding timetable” for implementing government projects before the coalition faces an already-agreed midterm review next fall.

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